Better Understand Historical Revolutions Around the World
What is a revolution? How is it different from other kinds of expressions of unrest and desire for change? Revolutions are perceived as periods of violent and chaotic change, wherein powerful forces both create and destroy. Through the connecting threads of both Global Studies and Literacy, collectively understood to be Humanities, high school students will work together to define revolution and to engage in research, analysis of literature and exploration of expression through the arts, to better understand the various historical revolutions around the world.
Students will identify and consider what conditions and catalysts incite people, or a people, to break into rebellion against power and for change. Students will explore the characteristics of revolution in the political, social, economic, and cultural realms, studying the people who fought for change and those who resisted it. They will attempt to answer the fundamental historical question: How does “change” happen? Students will study some of the larger scale and well known revolutions throughout history and around the world. They will also select, study and classify a revolution of their own choosing, based on criteria set forth by the class, which they will write about and present to the class in a style of their choosing. In addition, students will study the art of grant writing and will compose grants for projects that interest them and benefit the school.
Students engage in:
Students are expected to complete daily and extended assignments that support this study throughout. There will be homework and classwork, and an expectation that each is submitted on time and completed to the best of one’s ability. This may feel like a departure from tradition, however, it is essential to maintain dialogue and deeper understanding. Revolution requires the existence of a group and of group work. Given this fact, we expect each student to fully participate, cooperate and contribute to all efforts made by groups of students and teachers.
During group work, each group should assign a secretary to capture notes and points of interest or main thoughts during debates. The secretary can vary from meeting to meeting as long as the group can make a decision quickly. These notes should be emailed to the teachers who will post them, along with the closing conversation notes, on our whiteboard document so that all students can follow the course of work.
This class began by working in small groups to answer the questions below. Students were invited to use all the resources they were able to find.
The class often refers to the answers they crafted as they continue their studies. This initial effort led to the formation of a working definition of “Revolution”. The students continue to refer to this definition and question its validity as they advance through the course. In an effort to look at revolution and unrest from a different perspective students chose a creative representation of revolution among which were songs, street art, paintings, and photographs. They shared these with an explanation of what led them to their selection. They were then asked to select a song, the same or different, and to compose an analytical essay and a presentation.
Students Choose Creative Representations of Revolutions
In order to better understand the components of an effective presentation the teachers and students together crafted a rubric. Each component of a presentation was discussed and included in the rubric. Time, direct instruction and resources were provided to support their efforts. Students put the finishing touches on their paper/presentation, with the aid of peer to peer mentoring and advising from the teachers. The class also developed an additional rubric to assess the technical aspects of the paper. Each student presented his or her work to the class, most included some form of media to support their ideas. Following each presentation, students and teachers asked questions and engaged in discussion and, sometimes, debate. Presenters ultimately shared their thoughts and any findings of fact. Both classmates and the teachers completed a presentation rubric for each student.
The students were introduced to the Haitian Revolution during which was a slaves initiated revolt rebellion, from 1791 to 1803 when they had succeeded in ending not just slavery but French control over the colony. Slaves and former slaves were moved by the belief that all men were created equal and had an unalienable right to citizenship. Through their studies, the students grew to understand the leaders, the politics, the class and cultural struggles and the power of determination. The students came to understand that the Haitian Revolution was complex, consisting of several revolutions occurring simultaneously. These revolutions were influenced by the French Revolution of 1789, which would come to represent a new concept of human rights, universal citizenship, and participation in government. They also learned that the conditions in Haiti yesteryear and today are in direct response to this revolution. Haiti has been punished by all nations who maintained a slave culture.
Over the course of weeks, the students also read Jack Goldstone’s Revolution: A very short story. This academic text introduces and examines the leaders and the movements that lead to revolution and revolutionary changes. Goldstone presents theories, causes, strategies and the processes that lead to change. Through these reading and the ensuing discussions the students developed a better understanding of what revolutions are and why they occur.
The students were introduced to the concept of grant writing. We began by identifying a variety of projects that they were interested in and then narrowed the list to five focuses: a writer’s studio and cafe’, a rooftop garden, a sound and music studio, a basketball court and a STEAM Lab. Each student selected the grant group they wished to join, based on their personal interest.
Creating a Mission Statement
During grant writing classes, the students spoke about the various components of a grant, which typically includes an organizational description, mission statement, budget, program or project narrative, and conclusion. They grew to understand that grant writers typically write one section at a time and that the job is not quite as daunting as it might seem. Students researched what a program narrative looks like and discussed their findings. They have come to understand that grants are used to obtain funds in a competitive way. Many of them find this prospect very exciting. They also understand the characteristics of a not-for-profit and the three main grant types including operational, programmatic and capital.
Each student was asked to compose a mission statement for the school and to share this statement with their classmates. This exercise helped them better understand that having a clear mission is essential when selecting potential funding sources when writing a grant. They composed these statements with a broad brush, using beautiful language that reflected the philosophy of the school and their experience as students. The class discussed the statements, picked their top three choices and submitted them to the Director. She has brought them to the teachers and will bring them to the Board of Directors for their feedback.
In addition to the discussions about the components of a grant, and grant writing techniques and skills, students were given time to assemble in their grant groups. Once together they talked about and began researching and identifying funding sources and grant submission opportunities. The STEM Lab group walked through the available spaces in the building and began to visualize the lab and what furnishings, equipment and other items they need. Sketching seemed to aid this group in their process. This group has found an immediate opportunity to apply for a grant. Having examined the requirements for this grant, they have drafted a statement and developed a creative article of impact as required by the funder. They designed a message board concept and “Back to the Future” theme. They have also comprised and revised their 50-word statement.
Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama’s plan to renew America’s promise, Barak Obama, Three Rivers Press 2008
Sacco & Vanzetti, edited by John Davis, Ocean Press, 2004
Poor People’s Movements: Why they succeed, how they fail, Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Pantheon, 1977
The Next American Revolution: Sustainable activism for the 21st century, Grace Lee.Boggs – Scott Kurashige – University of California Press – 2011
Revolution: A very short story, Jack Goldstone, Oxford University Press 2014.
The Guide for NonViolence Practical Action Handbook, Michael N. Nagler, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2014
Challenging Authority, How Ordinary People change America Frances Fox Piven, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006
The Search for a Nonviolent Future, Michael Nagler, New World Library, 2004
The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need, Ellen Karsh and Arlen Sue Fox, Basic Books, 2003-2009
Perfect Phrases for Writing Grant Proposals, Dr. Beverly Browning, McGraw- Hill, 2008
Painless Writing, Jeffrey Strausser, Barrons, 2009
Industrial Revolution Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/industrial-revolution.asp#ixzz3veNrvx8z
Unpredictable Uprisings http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/02/06/weekinreview/06revolution-slideshow.html?_r=0
Intro to Political Revolutions by David Hunter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apPnbX7Jj7Q
Top 10 Notable Revolutions by WatchMojo.com http://youtu.be/r0qdn4JWUR0
Tavis Smiley interviews Tracy Chapman
King, Martin L., Jr. “I Have a Dream.” Speech. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C. 28 Aug. 1963. http://youtu.be/3vDWWy4CMhE
Kennedy, John F. “Technology Alliance for Progress Speech.” 13 March 1962. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9100
Stein, Bob. “Computers and Writing Conference Presentation.” Purdue University. Union Club Hotel, West Lafayette, IN. 23 May 2003. Keynote Address
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